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Protect Your Bankroll: 7 Common Issues with the McLaren Mp4

Protect Your Bankroll: 7 Common Issues with the McLaren Mp4

You’ve just spent £168,000 on your new McLaren MP4-12C.

That’s quite an investment. You’re going to want to protect it. The McLaren MP4-12C has several well-known issues that you need to know about if you want to keep your dream car running smoothly.

Well, look no further. We’ve compiled a list of the most common issues with the MP4-12C.

IRIS 1 System Problems

The IRIS 1 system was the first iteration of the computer system installed in the McLaren MP4-12C and other McLaren models. The system runs an Android backend and is responsible for the radio, satellite navigation and other components of the heads-up display in the vehicle.

Drivers reported issues with the system when first starting up the car. During the software’s start-up sequence the backlight of the screen would fail or lines would appear on the screen.

Some customers even reported that the IRIS 1 system would spontaneously reboot or shut down as they were driving.

The only solution offered for this issue was to upgrade to a newer version of the IRIS system, namely IRIS 2. An upgrade to the IRIS 2 system costs between £2,200 and £3,000.

Some customers were able to make do by restarting the IRIS system from inside the car. However, others were forced to pay out for the upgrade to ensure their McLaren had fully functioning audio, navigation, climate control, and other settings.

Engine Noise

More of a niggle than a mechanical or technical issue. The engine in the MP4-12C is a V8 and not, as with some other supercars in its class, like the Lamborghini Gallardo, a naturally aspirated V10. The rev-counter in the MP4-12C will redline at 8,500 rpm.

By contrast, the V12 in the Ferrari LaFerrari will rev up to 9,250 RPM and the V10 in Lexus LFA (Drive Tribe’s #1 best sounding engine) will rev up to a whopping to 9,500 RPM.

This has led some McLaren customers and fans alike to complain that the engine note just doesn’t sound enough like a true supercar. All this despite the fact that the McLaren MP4-12C’s 3.8 L V8 develops 616 bhp. This gives the McLaren an incredible top speed of 207 mph and a 0 to 60 time of just 2.8 seconds.

Mclaren MP4 Airbrake Problem

Aside from the big problem with the McLaren airbrake, which we’ll get to in a moment, some owners have reported mechanical failures.

One particular MP4-12C’s owner reported a problem with the airbrake not deploying under heavy braking as it’s supposed to. The airbrake is controlled by the Powertrain and Chassis Control Unit (PCCU). This means that any issues with the airbrake require an immediate trip back to McLaren or another professional garage for a check-up.

The big problem with the airbrake on the MP4-12C was mentioned when Top Gear reviewed the car. When the airbrake is deployed it completely eliminates rear visibility by obscuring the view out of the back window.

This prevents the driver from taking any corrective action under braking (which the sophisticated ABS system will allow) as they cannot see behind them to avoid any potential rear-ending.

Transmission Leakage

While not reported in large numbers, some McLaren MP4-12C’s have run into the dreaded issue of transmission leakage.

One customer, in an oft-replied-to forum post on McLaren Life, reported a leak in the transmission for his 2012 MP4-12C. The McLaren customer reported that they were forced to take their car to a garage. The garage identified a leak in the gearbox quoted over £22,000 for the repair work.

At the time of the forum post, the car was out of warranty. It may be the case that McLaren would take responsibility for transmission issues still covered by the manufacturer warranty.

Airbag Problems

According to, McLaren has issued two separate recalls on their MP4-12C vehicles because of potentially dangerous problems with the passenger side front airbag.

The first recall occurred in 2017 when McLaren recalled certain 2012 MP4-12C models. The recall stated that the vehicles were equipped with potentially faulty airbag inflators.

In the event of an accident, it was reported, the inflators may rupture. This was due to long term exposure to humidity and fluctuating temperatures and could interfere with the correct deployment of the airbag.

McLaren then issued another recall in 2018 for the same problem. This time they stated that the airbag inflators on the front passenger side may explode due to propellant degradation.

On both occasions, these issues were corrected by McLaren free of charge.

Headlight Condensation

A common problem for McLaren’s that are driven in wet or excessively humid conditions is headlight condensation. Headlight condensation occurs when the outside of the headlight lens is cooler than inside the headlight lens.

It is a simple job to remove the headlight and clean out the condensation. However, MP4-12C owners are strongly recommended to opt for a more permanent solution the next time they get their vehicle professionally serviced.

Windshield Wiper Motor

Another example of a recall issued by McLaren for the MP4-12C. McLaren issued the recall in 2013 for their Spider and Coupe models manufactured between October 2010 and 2013.

The recall stated that high temperatures and humidity would cause the wiper motor brushes to jam and prevent the wipers from working correctly. This caused subsequent visibility problems. As with the airbag recall, McLaren replaced defective wiper motors free of charge.

The Chequered Flag

That marks the end of our list of common issues for the McLaren MP4-12C. While certainly troublesome, none of the issues we’ve covered are deal-breakers. If you own a McLaren or you’re thinking about buying one then make sure you are covered by a proper warranty to avoid any nasty surprises with your vehicle.

Did we miss a problem with the MP4-12C? Perhaps you’d like to inquire about a professional service for your vehicle? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

In the meantime, why not check out more great articles on our blog.

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